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Viterra Assessing Rain Effect on South Australia Crop

Dec. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Damage from heavy rainfall this week on crops in South Australia, the country’s second-largest wheat producing state, is being assessed, said Viterra Inc.’s South East Asia President Rob Gordon.

“It will have caused some damage but it’s way too early to make an estimate of what that might be,” Gordon said in an interview at a grains industry forum in Perth. The severe weather which passed through the state in the past 24 to 48 hours didn’t represent the same risk to crops as the continuing heavy rainfall in New South Wales and Queensland, he said.

Rain in the past week has caused flooding in eastern Australia, slowing the harvest and downgrading crop quality to feed. Further wet weather is forecast for Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland this week after storms crossed South Australia, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

The grain crop in South Australia, which is about 20 percent to 25 percent harvested, was still likely to be a record, Gordon said.

Wheat for March delivery on Chicago Board of Trade fell 2.3 percent to $7.665 a bushel after reaching a four-month high this week amid concerns that Australia would have reduced supplies of milling quality grain.

South Australia had experienced mostly favorable weather this season and international demand was strong, Gordon said.

“We have a very full shipping program over the next three to four months,” he said.

South Australia’s winter crop production may reach 9.7 million metric tons this harvest, including 5.5 million tons of wheat, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences forecast yesterday.

To contact the reporter on this story: Wendy Pugh in Melbourne at wpugh@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Poole at jpoole4@bloomberg.net

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